What makes a Home Visiting Doctor different?
For Dr. Spears, the most important thing that makes the home visiting healthcare experience different from other healthcare experiences is the reduction of anxiety, because patients are being treated where they are most comfortable — in their own home. In the words of Dr. Spears, there are four primary reasons why home visits provide this reduction of anxiety:
- Slow vs. fast. “I can take the time to get to know patients and understand their situations from the first phone call to the first visit and beyond.”
- Personal vs. the impersonal. “I want to learn about their life history, their families, not just their medical conditions. I feel like I need to understand the whole patient in order to treat him or her effectively.”
- Comprehensive vs. fragmented services. “I am a family doctor, so in addition to treating the specific issue I may have been called in for, I can help with podiatry, mental healthcare, bed sores, and other issues. I can help to organize the numerous medications a patient may be taking, and I work with caregivers to coordinate any other services a patient may need.”
- Hope vs. fear. “Oftentimes when I first interact with patients, they have had a difficult medical experience and are scared. By treating them where they live, where they are comfortable, and by developing a comprehensive picture of the whole patient, I can help provide comfort to them and their loved ones. I get to really know the patients. The patients know me. I can help guide them and their caregivers to do what they need to do in order to provide them comfort-of-mind.”
The first Home Visit meeting
Patients are generally referred to Dr. Spears through a Community Health Center or a some other medical organization. The first interaction begins with a phone call with Dr. Spears to assess a patient’s needs. Next, Dr. Spears will make the first home visit.
Below is a brief synopsis of how a first home visit may go, again in the words of Dr. Spears. Of course, each visit will vary from patient to patient, but this gives an idea of what to expect when meeting with Dr. Spears.
“I like to sit right down and talk. This usually happens at the kitchen table or living room with the patient and his or her caregiver. We start with the family history. Where was he or she born? I ask a series of questions to really get to know them. People equate life events with medical events, so this can be helpful to create a full picture of a patient’s history.”
“We then delve into the medical history. It’s usually helpful to have another person, like a caregiver, there to help fill in the details, especially if a patient has dementia.”
“We then move to the physical exam. I can often do a thorough exam while the patient is partially clothed, so that they feel as comfortable as possible.”
“Next, I need to figure out all the medications a patient is on. This can often take some time because a lot of patients aren’t that organized when it comes to their meds. But, I need to know everything they’re taking.”
“Labs are next. We draw blood to check how the liver and kidneys are functioning, and we run any other tests that we need to run.”
“I determine if there are any other needs that need to be addressed. For example, if the patient has had a recent fall, do we need to have x-rays done, etc.?”
“At the end of the first meeting, I want to make sure that everyone is comfortable with the relationship up until that point. I then schedule a second visit.”
If you would like to know more about Dr. Spears or if you would like to arrange an initial visit, please use the contact form to get in touch.